Siena Catholic College

As the Edible School Gardens program is being developed and constantly improved, it is important that I look back on each school and evaluate how the program ran in that school and if it could have been done differently to make it more successful.   Here I talk honestly about all those things that could have been done differently so that hopefully you won't make the same mistakes.

This  was a Year 4 project with a very motivated teacher and lots of parent support for the project.  The students were probably a bit young to understand design concepts but certainly didn't lack any enthusiasm in the garden for getting the jobs done.

We had a wonderful harvest day organised by the teacher, where recipes were sent home (to those parents that volunteered) with a list of ingredients required from home and a list of the fresh produce available from the garden.   More than 30 people arrived (parents and grandparents)with recipes and a variety of food from  all over the world, and a feast was shared which included homemade lemon grass and ginger cordial.

The kids were so proud as they gave garden tours to their family and ate the food.

This edible school gardens project was only about 6 sessions and although the garden looked fantastic and lots of food was being harvested, I felt that I hadn't had enough time to embed all the different systems of a permaculture garden that are necessary for its longevity.

Recently I was asked to return to the school to do some teacher training and 12 month planning, so will go back twice a year to do that.


Brendan Smith
Year Four Classroom Teacher
Edible Garden coordinator

Leonie was an inspiration to our school.  She brought knowledge, enthusiasm, colour and excitement to everyone involved in the building, planting and harvesting of our garden.  We never dreamed a herb and vege garden could be so much fun for students, parents and staff.  Our edible garden was a roaring success and the Culminating Day was a feast that parents will talk about for years to come.

On a curriculum level, Leonie provided us with a year-round working document that money just can€™t buy.  What she knows about school gardens, plant selection and how to build, implement, rotate, fertilize and enrich garden sites cannot be found in any book.

It shouldn€™t have been a surprise but the way the students took to the whole €œgetting dirty€ idea was so uplifting for staff and parents alike.  Those who so often struggled in the classroom were, without doubt, the leaders in the garden.  They were fearless, leading by example.  It really changed the dynamics of our class and ended our school year on such a high for all involved.  More than half of the students built similar gardens at home over the Christmas holidays.  This Permaculture garden project has started our school thinking and talking about some of the greater issues the world faces today.  Minds at Siena, both young and old, are starting to look at our future just a little differently.